Genesis 41: Pharaoh’s Dreams

After interpreting the butler’s dream, what was Joseph thinking about his future for the next two years?

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Genesis 41:1 Two years later, Pharaoh had a dream.
He was standing by the Nile River.
King James
Genesis 41:1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.

What is the likelihood that Pharaoh would dream a second dream like the first one, but with different symbols?

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Genesis 41:2–7 Seven well-fed cows came up from the river and grazed on the marsh grass. After them, seven bony, mal-nourished cows came up from river and stood by the other cows at the Nile riverbank. The bony, mal-nourished cows ate the seven well-fed cows. Then Pharaoh woke up, went back to sleep, and had another dream.
Seven plump heads of grain grew on a single stalk. Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but they were shriveled by wind from the east. The seven shriveled heads swallowed the plump heads.
Pharaoh woke up. The vivid picture had been only a dream.
King James
Genesis 41:2–7 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.

Why was Pharaoh so troubled about his dreams?

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Genesis 41:8 The next morning, Pharaoh was deeply troubled by what he had dreamed. He sent for the astrologers and wise men of Egypt, told all of them his dreams, and asked for their interpretation. But no one could tell him what the dreams meant.
King James
Genesis 41:8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.

If the astrologers and wise men of Egypt were experienced in giving plausible explanations of people’s dreams, why couldn’t they interpret Pharaoh’s dreams?

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Genesis 41:8 The next morning, Pharaoh was deeply troubled by what he had dreamed. He sent for the astrologers and wise men of Egypt, told all of them his dreams, and asked for their interpretation. But no one could tell him what the dreams meant.
King James
Genesis 41:8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.

How much did the butler regret forgetting Joseph in prison? What did he say to Joseph when he saw him?

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Genesis 41:9–13 Then the chief butler said to Pharaoh, “Now I remember what I had forgotten until today. When you were angry with me and the chief baker, you sent us to prison under the captain of the guard. One night, each of us had a dream with its own meaning. A young Hebrew servant to the captain of the guard was there. After we told him our dreams, he told us what each dream meant. Everything happened exactly as he said it would. I was restored to my position, and the chief baker was hanged.”
King James
Genesis 41:9–13 Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day: Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard’s house, both me and the chief baker: And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream. And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.

Without knowing what the dream was, why was Joseph confident that God would give Pharaoh an interpretation that would give him peace?

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Genesis 41:14–16 Pharaoh ordered Joseph immediately brought up from prison.
So Joseph shaved, changed his clothes, and appeared before Pharaoh.
“I have dreamed a dream,” Pharaoh said, “and no one can tell me what it means. I have heard that you can understand a dream and interpret it.”
“I have no power to interpret dreams,” Joseph said, “but God does. He has the answer that will bring you peace.”
King James
Genesis 41:14–16 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.
And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

How long did Pharaoh wait before hearing the interpretation of his dreams?

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Genesis 41:17–24 “In my dream,” Pharaoh said, “I was standing on the bank of the Nile River. Seven well-fed cows came up from the river and grazed on the marsh grass. After them, seven bony, mal-nourished cows came up from river, more sickly than I have ever seen in Egypt. The bony, mal-nourished cows ate the seven well-fed cows. After eating, the cows were still bony and sickly, looking no better than before. Then I woke up.
“I dreamed again and saw seven plump heads of grain grow on a single stalk. Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but they were shriveled by wind from the east. The seven shriveled heads swallowed the plump heads. I told this to the astrologers, but none of them could tell me the meaning of the dreams.”
King James
Genesis 41:17–24 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river: And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow: And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness: And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine: And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke. And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good: And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them: And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.

How could Joseph speak to Pharaoh with confidence and conviction?

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Genesis 41:25–31 “Pharaoh’s dreams have one meaning,” Joseph said. “God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven well-fed cows and the seven plump heads of grain are seven years. The meaning is the same for both dreams. The seven mal-nourished cows that came up after them and the seven shriveled heads of grain shriveled by the east wind are seven years of famine. This will happen exactly as I have said, because God is revealing to Pharaoh what he is about to do.
“The next seven years will be a time of great prosperity in the land of Egypt. Seven years of famine will follow, so severe that all the years of prosperity will be forgotten. Great famine will consume all of Egypt. When people are starving for food, no one will remember the days of plenty.
King James
Genesis 41:25–31 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine. This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.

What motivated Pharaoh to consider Joseph’s counsel and then think Joseph was best qualified to run the enterprise? Why didn’t his officials object?

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Genesis 41:32–41 The dream was given to Pharaoh twice because he has determined what he will do and it is about to happen.
“Therefore, Pharaoh should choose a wise and understanding man and put him in charge of all the land of Egypt. Appoint officials to collect a fifth of Egypt’s harvests during the seven years of plenty. Let Pharaoh empower them to fill the cities’ granaries during the good years ahead. That grain should be kept in reserve for the seven years of famine that is coming. Then the land of Egypt will not perish because of the famine.”
This plan looked good to Pharaoh and those who served him.
Pharaoh said to his officials, “Can we find anyone better than Joseph, one who has the breath of God in him?”
39 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you these things, no one else could be more wise and understanding than you are. 40 I am putting you in charge of the entire country, and all my people are to obey your commands. Only I will have authority above you. 41 You are to rule over all of Egypt.”
King James
Genesis 41:32–41 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine. And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.

How did Joseph’s new position affect his relationship with Potiphar?

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Genesis 41:42–44 Pharaoh removed the signet ring from his hand and gave it to Joseph. He dressed him in white linen clothing, put a gold chain around his neck, and paraded him in the second chariot. Wherever Joseph went, people were commanded to bow before him. Thus he became ruler over Egypt.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and no one in Egypt can lift a hand or foot against you.”
King James
Genesis 41:42–44 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

How did Joseph feel about marrying the daughter of an Egyptian priest?

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Genesis 41:45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the Egyptian name Zaphenath Paneah and arranged for Asenath, daughter of Potipherah, priest of Cairo, to be his wife. So Joseph went out to govern the land of Egypt.
King James
Genesis 41:45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

Who besides Joseph spent thirty years of apparent insignificance before beginning his most important work?

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Genesis 41:46 Joseph was thirty years old when he appeared before Pharaoh, left his presence, and traveled throughout Egypt.
Luke 3:23 Jesus began his public ministry when he was about thirty years old. He was known as the son of Joseph, who was preceded by Heli,
King James
Genesis 41:46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.
Luke 3:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

During the seven years of plenty, how much grain was stored? How was it acquired? What facilities would have been needed to store that much grain?

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Genesis 41:34 Appoint officials to collect a fifth of Egypt’s harvests during the seven years of plenty.
Genesis 41:47–49 During the seven years of plenty, the earth brought abundant harvests. For seven years, Joseph gathered food from the fields for storage in the cities. Grain was gathered in abundance as the sands of the sea, so much that they quit counting how much they had.
King James
Genesis 41:34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.
Genesis 41:47–49 And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls. And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same. And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.

With so many people under his command, why didn’t Joseph send a messenger or try to make some kind of contact with his father?

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Genesis 41:50–54 Before the famine began, Asenath gave birth to Joseph’s two sons. Joseph named his first son Manasseh, saying, “He has made me forget my troubles and kept me from longing for my father’s house.” He named his younger son Ephraim, saying, “God has prospered me in this land of affliction.”
Egypt’s seven years of abundance came to an end, and seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said it would. Not only did the famine affect all of Egypt but also other lands.
King James
Genesis 41:50–54 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended. And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

As more and more foreigners came to Egypt to buy grain, what thoughts did Joseph have about possibly seeing his family again?

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Genesis 41:55–57 When the famine became so severe that people were starving, the Egyptians begged for food. Pharaoh sent them to Joseph. “Do whatever he tells you,” he said.
With the famine affecting everyone in Egypt, Joseph opened the cities’ storehouses and allowed people to buy grain.
The famine was so widespread that people from other countries came to buy grain.
King James
Genesis 41:55–57 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do. And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.